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Taking Rest Is Wisdom for the Ages

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Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop. -- Ovid

I love the quote above from the ancient Roman Ovid: He reminds us that for millennia farmers have known that every so often they must allow a field to "rest" or go fallow between plantings. Fallow land is that which has undergone plowing and harrowing and has been purposely left unseeded for one or more growing seasons so the soil can rest and regenerate the minerals and other elements needed to grow vital, productive crops. Metaphorically speaking, our growing "field" is our mind and our body. It's no secret that how well they work together in the creative process to produce a life of purpose and meaning depends, in part, on how well-rested they are; our mind and our body both need appropriate "timeouts" if we expect them to produce a vibrant and productive life.

Having just returned home from a very rewarding but rather exhausting event I presented on the East Coast, I can personally relate with the necessity of giving oneself time to regenerate between all the things we do to be "productive" in our daily lives. Between hotel beds, early morning flights, restaurant food, long work days and jet lag, I came home feeling totally toasted. I gave myself the gift of sleeping nearly 12 hours last night and it was incredibly rejuvenating... and, while I still have a long "to do" list, I am taking an intentional timeout today to be with my wife, whom I have seen very little of as of late. I am certainly not complaining about the life I have chosen because I love it; I share this, in part, as a reminder to myself about how important it is to take rest -- I figure if I need to hear it, perhaps others may as well.

No doubt it can be challenging to carve out time to rest when our plate is always so full. Many of us are so busy doing whatever it takes to keep all the balls bouncing that we fail to even notice how depleted we are becoming until the wheels begin to fall off our wagon and something forces us to stop. In other words, if we ignore the need to purposely allow our "field" to occasionally go fallow the universe will implement provisions that will force us to stop and take rest. Those provisions go (progressively) by many names such as, lethargy, malaise, burnout, breakdown, disease and, if ignored long enough, death. Point: Healthy living things need time to regenerate. From a spiritual perspective, when we give ourselves the gift of intentional and proactive timeouts to regenerate we are, in a sense, inviting the sacred presence within to replenish the creative soil of our mind and body with the life force needed to nurture the seeds that contain within them a life worth living.

How well are you doing at taking rest when it is required? Sometimes it boils down to making choices that require eliminating some things to maintain other things. Prioritizing can be a lifesaving practice when done regularly and mindfully. It's easy to overcommit ourselves to doing far too many things and, in the end, everything and everyone involved gets shortchanged (including ourselves); the desire to want to do everything for everyone all the time can be a dangerous trap that leaves us feeling depleted and, in some cases, even resentful. Yes, our work matters. Yes, our family matters. Yes, our (fill in the blank) matters. However, if we don't take rest when needed, soon enough none of it will matter.

Suffice it to say that trying to grow a balanced, healthy, joyful and productive life in a field that has not been allowed to go fallow for a time is, no pun intended, fruitless. May you draw from the wisdom of Ovid and the farmers from antiquity to modern times and take rest when you need to. Your life's crop will be far more bountiful and beautiful and, the good news is, you'll be around to enjoy the harvest.

For more by Dennis Merritt Jones, click here.

For more on unplugging and recharging, click here.

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